Crowing rights go to a burger.
At the 48th National Chicken Cooking Contest, a chicken burger won the hearts and taste buds of the judging panel, spotlighting the easy use and yumminess of ground chicken. The contest, sponsored by the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, happens every two years. This year’s event, set in San Antonio, Texas, brought nine regional winners to the kitchen.
The winning burger recipe, “Chinese Chicken Burgers with Rainbow Sesame Slaw,” was spotlighted in GRIT’s July/August Recipe Box, as were a few of the other winning recipes. We ran out of space, however, so here are the other winning recipes.
Nine regional finalists, who qualified at cook-offs across the country, prepared their dishes in the test kitchens of the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio Branch. The 2009 contest marked the first year regional cook-offs were held instead of bringing all 51 state and Washington, D.C., winners to the finale.
Contestant Ruth Kendrick, of Ogden, Utah, calls the institute’s kitchen setup “terrific,” and Elise says the CIA kitchens had a lot of wonderful space.
Jessie Grearson (representing Northeast Region)
Falmouth , Maine
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 1/4 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 cup flour, divided
1 large egg
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 large naan (East Indian flat bread)
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
4 leaves Boston lettuce
Sweet Date Sauce, recipe follows
Tangy Yogurt Raita, recipe follows
Cut each chicken breast horizontally, stopping 1/2 inch from edge. Open each breast and pound to 1/4-inch thickness or so chicken is same size as naan bread.* Sprinkle with salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
In large pie plate, place panko. Stir in cumin, cayenne, garam masala and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. In another pie plate, place 1/2 cup flour. In third plate, whisk egg and mayonnaise with paprika; whisk in remaining flour until smooth.
Dredge 1 chicken breast in flour; shake off excess. Then dip chicken in egg mixture to coat; next dip in panko. Repeat with remaining chicken breast.
In large nonstick skillet over medium heat, place 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Add chicken and cook, turning once, about 2 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove and keep warm.
Wipe skillet and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Briefly heat naan in garlic oil, turning once, until soft and golden. Place 1 chicken breast on each naan and top with tomato slices, lettuce leaves, generous tablespoon each of Sweet Date Sauce and Tangy Yogurt Sauce, and remaining naan. Cut each sandwich in half and then half again. Serve with extra sauces for dipping. Two naan-wiches yield 4 servings.
Sweet Date Sauce: In 1 1/2 cups water, simmer 5 ounces dried dates about 15 minutes or until soft. Cool slightly and place dates and liquid in blender; process until fine. Add 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (or 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice); 1 tablespoon brown sugar; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon cumin; 1/2 teaspoon pepper; 3 teaspoons lemon juice; and 2 tablespoons water. Process to smooth sauce. Additional sauce may be frozen.
Tangy Yogurt Raita: In small food processor, place 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt and 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro. Process until sauce turns pale green and cilantro is finely incorporated. Spoon into medium bowl and stir in 1/4 cup finely grated carrot; 1 cup finely minced sweet onion; 1/2 cup grated cucumber, drained; 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin; 1/4 teaspoon cayenne; and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
*Note: If chicken breast halves are too large to fit on naan bread, cut each breast in half to fit bread.
Lillian Julow (representing South Atlantic Region)
Gainesville , Florida
1/2 cup blanched whole almonds
2 slices (1/2 inch thick) French bread
3 pounds mixed bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and thighs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons sugar
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
On tray in toaster oven, place almonds and bread.* Bake at 350°F until light brown, turning once. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 375°F. With scissors, trim chicken skin so it just covers meat. Cut chicken breasts in half crosswise (if wings are attached, remove and discard tips). Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, place olive oil. Add chicken in batches, starting with skin side down and turning once until well browned on all sides; transfer to 2 l/2-quart casserole with cover.
Discard oil in skillet but retain browned bits and any remaining chicken juices. Return skillet to medium heat and add butter and chicken broth. Simmer, stirring, until all brown bits are incorporated into stock mixture; set aside.
Tear toasted bread into small pieces and place in small bowl containing vinegar. Place almonds in food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add soaked bread, cinnamon, ginger and sugar to processor and pulse until smooth. Pour in juices from skillet and process again. Pour sauce over chicken, cover and bake about 30 minutes or until tender and internal temperature reaches 170°F.
Arrange chicken with sauce on platter and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Yields 4 servings.
*Almonds and bread may also be browned under a broiler.
Susan Cortesi (representing East North Central Region)
Northbrook , Illinois